Mental Health America Indiana Blog

Mental Health America Indiana Blog. Keeping your mental health informed.

Combatting Fear-Bola: Anxiety Expert Cautions Against Spread of Ebola Hysteri

Combatting Fear-Bola: Anxiety Expert Cautions Against Spread of Ebola Hysteri

EDMONDS, Wash., Oct. 23, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The irrational fears surrounding Ebola has given way to what mental and behavioral health specialist Dr. Gregory Jantz believes is a much more widespread problem: Fear-bola. Fear-bola refers to the irrational fear of the Ebola that has rapidly spread across the United States.

 

According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, nearly two thirds of Americans are concerned about an epidemic outbreak in the U.S. Another recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that 45% of people are afraid that they or a family member will contract Ebola.

Dr. Jantz, Founder of The Center - A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, has spent the past 30 years helping people recover from a wide variety of behavioral and mental health issues, including overcoming fear and anxiety. His concern is that for people already struggling with worry and stress, Fear-bola can become yet another layer of fear. For these people already struggling with various stressors or anxieties, buying into the Fear-bola epidemic can aggravate their symptoms and cause additional complications.

In a recent interview on Fox News, Dr. Jantz cautioned viewers, "Be careful about your thinking. We can lose our rational thinking and begin to see things that aren't there. Use normal precaution, but the reality is that if fear takes over, it can have a ripple effect… and our rational thinking goes out the window. Don't let fear takeover. You can develop free-floating anxiety that begins to extend to other areas of your life."

For those struggling with worry and fear of Ebola, Dr. Jantz recommends to take a calm approach, and to not jump to any rapid conclusions. Fear evolves into anxiety once a person becomes physically affected. Physical signs of anxiety can include sweaty palms, increase in heart rate, impacted sleep patterns, and in extreme cases panic attacks. It is not uncommon for people to revert to coping mechanisms like alcohol or disordered eating patterns. When this level of anxiety is present, an individual should consider seeking professional support.

Dr. Jantz has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, NBC and CBS and is available for immediate media interviews and discussions on this important topic. Please contact Beth Chapman at 816.835.0306 or email to schedule appearances.

 

RESOURCES:

www.livingwithanxiety.com

www.anxietyresourcecenter.org 

www.aacap.org 

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml 

 

 

 

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This Is Only A Test

This Is Only A Test

 My 3rd and 7th grade sons are getting ready for ISTEP next week, and it seems like they have been preparing for ISTEP all school year.  Thankfully, neither of them have  test anxiety unlike some of our friends' children who literally become physically ill over the thought of taking a test.  Last week, my 3rd grade son's teacher sent home a piece of paper and asked that we write him a letter to read before taking ISTEP.  She asked that the letter be "encouraging" and nothing that would put undue added pressure and stress on students.  They are also providing breakfast for students to help them be fortified for the test.

Some students will stress out for weeks about taking a test, some students won't be effected at all.  Only you will know your child and how they can handle tests but there are some things you can do to help them be better prepared.  How can you tell if your child has test anxiety beyond what is considered "normal"?   Here are some things to look for:

1.  if they tell you they doubt their ability to take the test and have constant negative thoughts about failing and not being able to finish the test

2.  they may be anxious because they feel they have to answer every question correctly, resulting in their being unable to complete the test because they are constantly changing their answers or second guessing themselves

3.  some students may experience physical symptoms such as headache, stomachache, and nausea

 

What can parents do?

1.  make sure your child get enough sleep, not only the night before the test, but the week before the test

2.  check on your child's academic progress throughout the semester so you know where they are with their grades before a major test has to be taken

3.  don't be overly reassuring and telling your child that they will "ace the test" and "do great" because that might place unrealistic expectations on them and if they do not do as well on the test as you said they would, they will be even more anxious the next time they take a test

4.  help your child stop their negative thinking - if they say "I always fail my tests"  help them look back at their test grades and realize they don't fail every test

5.  don't let your child avoid the test by staying home from school 

6.  do practice questions with your child if that is applicable - many tests have free on line study components and even games that students can use to prepare

7.  know when to get professional help - if your child develops low self esteem or depression, or extreme anxiety about going to school in general and refuses to go to school, your child may need professional help

Above all, let your child know that test scores don't have anything to do with their self worth and who they are as a person.  After all, this is only a test.  

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More Than Just "Jitters"

More Than Just "Jitters"

My two boys went back to school this week.  They were more than ready - excited about seeing their friends, eager to meet new teachers and go to new classes, ready to play soccer and get back to music lessons.  My third grader didn't even want me to come to his class on their first day like I have done since pre-school.  I wasn't ready for that! But I'm glad he feels so independent and confident (even if it makes me a little sad to know he's growing up).   And our 7th grader - well let's just say he would have been mortified if I had stepped one foot in his school on the first day, even though I was dressed for work  (I might just as well have shown up in my pajamas with curlers in my hair and he wouldn't have been more embarrassed).  Even we parents, and most kids ,have some initial anxiety and fear about starting school but after the first month when they realize their teacher isn't horrible like other kids have told them, they can find their way around school without getting lost, and they can open their locker, their fears go away.

But it's not like that for everyone.  Some kids have such severe anxiety that going back to school is nearly impossible for them.  They dread the end of summer and the start of a new school year, and it's not because they don't like shiny new high tops, freshly sharpened pencils, or the lunch box with their favorite character on it.  According to the Anxiety  Disorders Association of America, 1 out of every 8 children have an anxiety disorder that may show up as physical symptoms on Sunday night (complaints of stomachache or headache), an increase in tantrums and negative behaviors, or an increase in nightmares or "bad dreams".  All of these can indicate that your child might have anxiety beyond the "usual" back to school worries.    Transitions can be very difficult - from one grade to the next especially moving from grade school to middle school or middle school to high school, riding a bus instead of being driven by a parent, walking home from school instead of riding a bus, and maybe staying home alone after school for the first time.

There are some things you can do to help your child handle their fears:

1.  Make sure they feel ready - look over the school supply list together and let them pick out their stuff if that's appropriate.  Visit the school ahead of time so they know where their classroom is, the lunch room, the restroom, and their locker (and let them try the combination until they can open it).  Drive or walk the route to school so they know where to go and make sure they know how to call and who to call if they  need help or something changes with their routine.  Meet the teacher if possible.  Let them know that any medications they need will be kept with a school nurse and they will be able to get them (this is especially important for someone who has asthma - they may be able to keep their inhaler with them if they have the proper documentation).  Have them write down somewhere where they will remember their bus number - you may even laminate a small piece of paper with the bus number, a contact number, their address, etc. and adhere it to their backpack.  Get on a routine as soon as possible so that there are fewer "surprises" to deal with.

2. Make sure they feel supported - we were all kids once (even though it might be harder for some of us to remember that far back!).  Make sure your child knows that you can relate to their worries and you remember what it was like to be the new kid at school or to be going to high school for the first time.  You can even drag out an old yearbook of yourself at their age and talk about what you remember about being in that grade.  It may help them to know you can relate (and they will probably have a few laughs over your school pictures!).  Talk about how other students are feeling too - let them know they're not alone.

3.  Make sure they feel valued - don't dismiss your child's fear and worries by telling them that "everything will be fine".  Make sure they know they can talk to you about their feelings without being made to feel they are being a "baby".  Let them talk to you about it, as often as they need to and validate their feelings by saying them back to them.  Even if you don'r really understand why they are so nervous, you need to make sure they know you care for them and will help them however you can.

If your child can't seem to overcome his or her fears after about a month you should consider seeking professional help.   It's not just about "readin', writin', and arithmetic".  It's about knowing our kids feel safe, loved, and supported and that will help make them ready to learn.  Welcome back!

 

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When Life Hands You Lemons, Don’t Panic! Posted on July 31, 2013 by Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R

 

My son owns a tee shirt that says,

“When life hands you lemons, keep them. Because, you know, free lemons!”

I like to keep life light. But sometimes crises happen and they can set our anxiety on overdrive. Once panic sets it, it takes all of our energy. Energy that we need to handle the situation!

On the other hand, if we used that energy to handle the situation. It would make our anxiety go down! Really! Read on for Five Things To Do When You are In A Crisis:

Five Things To Do When You Are In A Crisis

f life hands you lemons, don't panic

1. Get busy.Sometimes life is going along fine and then some kind of crisis happens. The boat is about to capasize. Much of the time, we get kicked into survival mode and get busy to rebalance the boat. We may have some fear but we keep anxiety at bay because we are busy. Taking action is one of most important things you can do to help decrease your anxiety. It helps you feel empowered. Anxiety feeds on helplessness and feeling out of control. Action puts you back in the driver seat.

2. Get Connected. Many people tend to isolate themselves when they are feeling bad making all kinds of excuses that they are not worthy of another person’s time. (If this is you, read Afraid To Be Needy?). We are social creatures, humans usually come together to handle crisis because that is how we get through. You are worthy! Connect with someone.

3. Do research. Odds are that somebody else has been through it and out the other side. They can give you hope at the very least and great ideas at the best. There is more than enough information out there for everything you’d want to know.

4. Be in the moment. Don’t jump ahead. Focus on what you need to do right now. Prioritize. Stop feeling guilty about anything from the past. This never helps anyone. Stop being worried about doing it all, just do it.

5. Trust yourself. We have greater capacity that we think we have when we are put to the test. Doubt is the only thing that can get in our way. You have skills, I know you do, how else would you have gotten this far? You can trust yourself.

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